Most of my work comes under the category of ‘ink and wash’ and it is the relationship between the ink lines and the watercolour washes that I find the most exciting part of this way of working. However, most of the information posts on my blog to date have been about the ‘wash’ side of the equation (such as how to set up a 12 colour palette) and apart from a few explorations in coloured ink earlier this year, I have not seriously tackled the ink component and in particular the use of fountain pens.
So… I am very excited to start a new series today on fountain pen sketching!
This is something I have been thinking about for well over a year and as it is such a big topic that it was always in the too hard basket. But over the past few months I have been working with Goulet Pens to put together some main thoughts about why fountain pens are so good for sketching, to give a few important tips and to make a few personal recommendations of pens. My original idea was to write one post entitled “Why EF, Why Lamy?” But of course, in true Liz-style, the plan has got bigger – much bigger!
There is a LOT of amazing content out there about fountain pens that it can almost be overwhelming. So I wanted to simplify it to the aspects I believe are the most important for sketchers and to share my personal preferences. I am not going to try to repeat information that is dealt with elsewhere and so wherever possible I will be linking to Goulet’s videos.
I have spent hours going through Goulet’s extensive resources and youtube channel, filling in the gaps of my knowledge and collecting the most relevant links! I have also gone through their extensive range of pens to see if there are a few potential sketching pens that I haven’t tested … ha! are you surprised by that?
Please note: This is not a sponsored post, and although I will be linking to Goulet videos and to their pen listings, none of these are affiliated links. I simply wanted to work with Goulet Pens because I greatly admire what they do – their amazing personal service, extensive range of pens and inks, in-depth pen reviews and especially their generosity and commitment to free educational content. Goulet kindly sent me two Noodlers Konrad pens and one of their maintenance kits to test, but I am not receiving any payment for this series of blog posts.
I do not consider myself a fountain pen expert, although preparing these posts has expanded my knowledge a lot, but I have used them since I was 10 years old. I wrote my high school notes using an old Parker pen of my dad’s and when I went to university, my design tutor often stole my cheap Shaeffer pen for the day because it was so good to draw with. As an architect most of the hand drawn drawings that went out of the office were completed with fine liner pens, but all my design drawings and many of my handwritten notes were done using a fountain pen.
So it was only natural when I started sketching (thanks to Danny Gregory) and read that he used a Lamy Safari pen that I bought one online straightaway. Only a few weeks later I went into a fountain pen store here in Sydney (sadly now closed) to check to see if this was really the best option and the owner suggested that I might like the balance of the Lamy Joy calligraphy pen. I did! He sold me one with an extra fine nib (rather than the calligraphy nib it comes with) and well… the rest is history!
My White Joy is my ‘go-to’ pen and an important part of my kit (I chose the white because I lost two Black Joy pens a few years ago). When I put this pen in my hand I just want to start sketching and it truly feels like an extension of me – my pen and I are one and we start going places! On my second visit to the above mentioned pen shop, the same man sold me a gold nib but for many years I was too afraid to take it out sketching. However after buying the White Joy I decided it was time to start using it regularly. So my White Joy (with gold nib) travels with me everywhere now!
The point of this series is to show you that fountains pens open up many possibilities for you to find a tool that really suits YOU. I truly believe that when your pen becomes an extension of you, your work can start to flow out of you more freely. And as we will see in Part 2, the flow of ink on the page is pretty special too.
What will I be looking at in this series? (click here for the index of the series)
Part 2. Why draw with a fountain pen?
Part 3. Using a fountain pen
Part 4. Choosing a fountain pen
Part 5. Basic fountain pens
Part 6. Fountain pens with variable lines 1
Part 7. Fountain pens with variable lines 2s.
So today I am just doing an introduction – but if you want to do some ‘homework’ before Part 2 comes out, here are some links to keep you going:
Some other sketchers who have written great posts about fountain pens:
- Parkablogs does extensive reviews including videos of many fountain pens
- Jane Blundell shares her favourite pens
- Nina Johannson has some fountain beauties
- Cathy Johnson shares her favourite pens and pen tweaks
- Tina Koyama ‘s 9 part epic pen search… this is serious business!
(if you know of some more to add to this list please include in the comments section and I will keep this list updated)
Once you have a fountain pen you will have to start drawing with it!
If you would like to learn the fundamentals and the start urban sketching please check out my Foundations online course.